Thursday, May 10, 2012

Love 'boutique' hotels? I have a gem for you!

There's nothing better than walking into a hotel and feeling at home. That's what happened when I visited Chester's Boutique Hotel. 

Originally a residence, owners Peter and Maria Gittoes almost developed the property in 2008 as an office building. Then the GFC struck and they realised that the area in which Chester's is located - Brisbane's Fortitude Valley - already had more offices than it needed. Instead, they chose to transform the family home (they still live there) into a 10-room boutique hotel that has been tastefully decorated.

I have discovered that this post runs slowly if viewed on Internet Explorer. It's best viewed on Google Chrome or Firefox (not as fast as Chrome).

It doesn't look huge from the outside...

From the outside, you wonder how there is a hotel hidden away behind the front of the building. However, once inside, it's like the TARDIS and the front entry opens out into a large, beautiful, airy atrium with the hotel all around you.

I immediately felt comfortable in the surroundings and would have loved to make myself at home on one of the comfy sofas (the sort you can melt into) in the lounge area just past the small, elegant reception desk. But alas, I was just visiting long enough to get photos and ask a few questions (Peter and Maria had kindly agreed to meet between when the outgoing guests had departed and the new guests were due to arrive).

Then you get inside and there's this!
Some of the rooms are upstairs.

The guests have the hotel 'at their service'. By this Peter and Maria mean that guests shouldn't feel like they need to remain in their rooms. Chester's isn't open to visitors and the open-plan layout means that the dining area and lounge, as well as the Cascade Falls Courtyard, are all easily accessed, making it feel like you're in someone's home...which, technically you are. The kitchen is also a part of the open-plan but is unavailable for use by the guests.

The dining area - takeaway is welcome (yes, that is a fish tank).
Ev erything is open plan - the kitchen at back.

Chester's is a 4-star hotel but has the look and ambience of something much higher up the 'star chart'. The rooms are spacious and ever so tastefully decorated and prices start at $279, $299, and $359, depending on the 'level' you are seeking. Full price list HERE.

There are 10 rooms, all of which have a city view, garden view or courtyard access. Each room is ensuite and is designed to cater for two people. The rooms mostly have king beds but there are a couple of queen beds (no twins). Also, Chester's doesn't cater for children.

If you take the rooms on their own merit, you'd think you were in a 4½ or 5-star hotel. All the facilities are there and, unlike many (any - Australia?) major hotels, there is free WiFi. The rooms have a flatscreen TV but no cable. There is, however, a very up-to-date selection of DVDs and some large, illustrated books scattered across the coffee table between the lounges.

I loved being in the large, spacious communal area and would have been more than happy to settle back in one of the lounges, overlooking the Cascade Falls Courtyard, with a good book.

Another thing - all rooms are non-smoking. There is also no smoking on the balcony or in the courtyards. Smoking is allowed on the roof top providing there is no objection from anyone else.

Entry level room, starting at $279.
This room - the Cascade Room - looks onto and accesses the Cascade Falls Courtyard.

All rooms come with:
  • iPod clock radio
  • Wifi access
  • Lush towels & bathrobes
  • Molton Brown amenities
  • Ironing board & hair dryer
  • LCD TV
  • Fully stocked bar fridge
  • Tea & Coffee making facilities
  • DVD player with free inhouse movies
  • Lounge chair
  • Office chair & large desk space
  • Lots of room to move! (added by us)
Rooms don't have a phone (who doesn't own a mobile these days?).

Chester’s doesn't have a 24-hour reception desk and check-in after 9pm is not possible without prior arrangement. The hotel is also Peter and Maria's residence, so there is always someone on site in case of an emergency.

Courtyard room, starting at $359.
Beautifully outfitted ensuite for each room.

A continental breakfast is included Mon-Fri and sounds delicious:

  • Freshly baked bread (choice of four)
  • Homemade compote
  • Selection of organic muesli and granola
  • Natural yogurt
  • Selection of fresh fruit (usually four)
  • Freshly boiled eggs
  • Cheese
  • Locally made jams
  • Freshly made espresso coffee to your liking
  • Selection of organic teas
  • Fruit juice

All items except the coffee and tea are self service from the kitchen bench.

The kitchen area is for staff only but guests are more than welcome to buy/order in takeaway food and use the dining room.

Chester's has a sizeable rooftop bar (that works on an honour system) with great views of the city and surrounds. The bar has a selection of soft drinks (from $3), pre-mixed drinks (from $7), beers (from $8), wines by the half bottle (from $24) and a selection of French champagne (from $59.00).

Understandably, due to its size, a pool and gym aren't onsite. However, the Valley Pool is less than 800 metres away and there is a lovely Brisbane River Walk about 1km in the other direction, where you can catch the CityCat into the CBD. There are also City Cycle stations scattered all around Chester's and, if yoga is your thing, then the nearest yoga centre is just around the corner on Doggett Street. A multitude of buses pass through the area and take you to either New Farm, the city or West End. Peter and Maria will be able to assist you with details. And a taxi into the city shouldn't cost you much more that $10 (if that).

Once again, due to the size and location of Chester's, parking is only available in the form of street parking. Fortitude Valley is right next to the CBD, so parking is a premium and it's busy. Fees do apply for street parking (weekends and public holidays are free).

The rooftop bar - city views and an honour system when it comes to buying drinks.

Chester's doesn't offer lunch or dinner but the hotel is a stone's throw from James Street in one direction and, if you turn right out the front door and walk to the end of the street and cross over, you will find yourself at the Emporium.

James Street is one of the many cafe/dining hubs of Brisbane, with bars, fashion and Palace Cinemas. Emporium is similar (minus the cinema) but also has eateries such as Belle Epoque patisserie and Tartufo restaurant and wine bar.

If you continue past James Street, and in the same direction, is Fortitude Valley (10-15 minute walk). 'The Valley' is similar to James Street but far more built up and with more of a niteclub scene, including the renowned Cloudland. This is where you will also find Brisbane's Chinatown. If you keep going, it's a further 20-25 minute walk to the CBD.

Chester's is a delight and, if you want a unique experience, then it might be what you're looking for. Technically it might not be 5-stars but, trust me, it's pretty close. As well as directing family and friends to Chester's, I look forward to staying there at some point.

In the meantime, here are some fantastic reviews.

Enjoy your stay at Chester's!


*If you stayed at Chester's as a result of this post, please tell me -

See and read about more of my accommodation experiences/reviews.

To see more posts about accommodation, dining, and/or things to do in Brisbane and SE Qld, visit HERE.

Chester's Boutique Hotel:

26 Chester Street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
PO Box 2126 F.V.B.C. QLD 4006
Phone: 07 3852 2218    
Fax: 07 3257 4518

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